The Not F***ing Around Coalition, which garnered headlines a few weekends ago when hundreds of black gun owners marched through Stone Mountain Park in Georgia, is heading to Louisville, Kentucky this weekend for a “muster” that the group’s founder says will bring thousands of armed demonstrators to the city. The Louisville Police Department acknowledged on Tuesday that they’ve seen social media posts indicating that the group is planning a visit and declaring that they’ll reach out to the NFAC to try to make contact beforehand, adding:
As with all protests we learn about, we attempt to reach out to organizers to understand what their plans are. We have had several protests posted over the past several weeks, some of which have occurred and some which have not. We will take the appropriate steps to prepare for whatever may occur.”
The Louisville Courier-Journal has a few more details, including confirmation from John “Jay” Johnson, who’s the founder and “Grand Master” of the NFAC, that the group will be meeting at a local high school at noon on Saturday. Johnson says those wanting to march must adhere to their uniform requirements, and must come armed.
“Understand the seriousness of this situation,” said Johnson, who goes by the name The Real Grandmaster Jay. “Breonna Taylor was murdered in her home. … We gotta go in on this one.”
After a phone call with local leaders last week, Johnson had a meeting with Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Louisville Metro Council President David James on Monday — the latter told The Courier Journal that he organized the meeting.
Cameron’s spokeswoman Elizabeth Kuhn confirmed to The Courier Journal that the phone call took place.
“The conversation was productive,” Kuhn wrote in an email. “Attorney General Cameron discussed his continued commitment to moving forward with our office’s independent and thorough investigation into the death of Ms. Taylor.”
Last week in a call with local officials, Johnson said that five to six-thousand people would be coming to Louisville if progress wasn’t made into the Breonna Taylor case. So far no officers have been charged in the case, and the neither the state Attorney General’s investigation nor the FBI investigation into the case have been concluded, though the FBI says their investigation is the “top priority” for the field office.
I’ve written before about my views on the Taylor case, and my belief that Kenneth Walker was most likely acting in self-defense when he fired a shot at officers as they burst through the door. I don’t believe that Breonna Taylor deserved to die, and I have big questions about how the warrant was served and why not a single officer was equipped with a body camera that night. Since I’m also a fan of a robust exercise of the Second Amendment, I’m hoping that Grand Master Jay has a big turnout this weekend, though I’m pretty sure I don’t agree with him on much politically.
I do find it amusing to see politicians who typically would be calling for a shutdown of the city over a private “militia” planning to march by the thousands bend over backwards to appear to be okay with the idea.
David James said he is “not a big fan of people carrying weapons while they’re protesting or marching through the city, no matter who they are.” However, he added that the group consists of “law-abiding citizens following the rules and laws of the state of Kentucky” and that they have the right to protest.
The Metro Council president added that he is more worried about people reacting to the NFAC and that there may “be one person that does one stupid thing, and then we have a problem.”
James is typically a big fan of gun control, and has argued that Louisville should be able to pass its own gun laws for years, but he’s uncharacteristically subdued about the armed militia coming to town. If James really isn’t on board with the idea of the Not F***ing Around Coalition mustering this weekend, he could always take a page from his Democrat counterparts in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who are suing a New Mexico militia and seeking court-ordered injunctions prohibiting any members from “acting in concert while armed with anything that can be used as a weapon during any protest rally demonstration, or march.”
The idea for the anti-militia lawsuits comes from Georgetown University Law School’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, which has been advocating taking legal action against private militias for a couple of years. In fact, the group says that prosecutors in all 50 states have tools at their disposal to prevent groups like the NFAC from assembling. In Kentucky specifically, the ICAP says there are two statutes that could be used to restrict armed militias gathering in mass.
Ky. Const. § 22. Standing armies restricted; military subordinate to civil; quartering soldiers restricted No standing army shall, in time of peace, be maintained without the consent of the General Assembly; and the military shall, in all cases and at all times, be in strict subordination to the civil power; nor shall any soldier, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, except in a manner prescribed by law.
Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 38.440. Entities who may drill or parade with arms without Governor’s permission (1) Except as permitted in subsections (2), (3), and (4) of this section, no persons other than the Kentucky National Guard or Kentucky active militia shall associate together as an armed company or drill or parade with arms without permission from the Governor. (2) Students in educational institutions chartered under the laws of Kentucky, in which military science is part of the course of instruction, may drill and parade with arms in public under the supervision of their instructors. (3) Veterans’ service organizations may wear swords and may drill or parade with arms in public. (4) People participating in the reenactment of a historical military event from the French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, United States Civil War, or Spanish-American War may wear swords and may drill or parade with arms in public.
I don’t know if a prosecutor would have a case with the first statute. Is the Not F***ing Around Coalition a “standing army”? I don’t think so, and certainly not every protester who shows up armed for the event this weekend will be a formal member of the group. Has the “army” trained together, drilled together, conducted field exercises together? Nope, so I don’t think the first statute applies.
The second statute cited by the Georgetown Law group could apply here, though I think any attempt to block the NFAC would make for a great court challenge to the law under both First and Second Amendment claims. This statute says “no persons,” and doesn’t mention a standing army, so actual membership in the NFAC isn’t a consideration. Instead, the issue is whether or not the armed march in Louisville would be considered an “armed company” on parade.
If this were a “right wing militia,” I suspect the local prosecutor and anti-gun politicians would be all over a court challenge as a violation of Kentucky statutes, but something tells me that Commonwealth’s Attorney Thomas Wine and Metro Council president David James will let this armed mass gathering slide without a court challenge.
As for me, I hope that the NFAC pulls off a peaceful, powerful protest that moves the cause of justice forward in the Breonna Taylor/Kenneth Walker case and hopefully provides a positive portrayal of the Second Amendment rights of Americans being exercised by all in attendance. We saw 20,000+ gun owners gather in Richmond, Virginia in January without incident, and it would be absolutely incredible to see the same type of gathering and energy on the streets of Louisville this weekend. Fingers crossed that it turns out that way.